Comeau's Sea Foods Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans), (1995) 179 N.R. 241 (FCA)

JudgeStone, Linden and Robertson, JJ.A.
CourtFederal Court of Appeal (Canada)
Case DateFebruary 27, 1995
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1995), 179 N.R. 241 (FCA)

Comeau's Sea Foods Ltd. v. Can. (1995), 179 N.R. 241 (FCA)

MLB headnote and full text

Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada (appellant/defendant) v. Comeau's Sea Foods Limited, a body Corporate (respondent/plaintiff)

(A-650-92)

Indexed As: Comeau's Sea Foods Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans)

Federal Court of Appeal

Stone, Linden and Robertson, JJ.A.

February 27, 1995.

Summary:

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans notified a fishing company that he exercised his discretion under s. 7 of the Fisheries Act to authorize issuance of four lobster fishing licences. The fishing company expended funds to alter its boats to fish for lobster. Four months later the Minister, bowing to political pressure, withdrew his authorization and refused to issue the licences. The fishing company brought an action for damages in negligence, promissory estoppel, irrevocable legal act and breach of contract.

The Federal Court of Canada, Trial Divi­sion, in a judgment reported 54 F.T.R. 20, allowed the action. The court held that the Minister's ultra vires withdrawal of the licence authorization constituted negligent conduct causing foreseeable loss to the fishing company. The court held that there was no liability based on promissory estoppel, breach of contract or irrevocable legal act. The Minister appealed. The fishing company cross-appealed the failure to find liability on its alternate grounds.

The Federal Court of Appeal, Linden, J.A., dissenting in part, allowed the appeal and dismissed the cross-appeal. Stone, J.A., stated that the availability of adequate ad­ministrative law remedies (judicial review and mandamus) negatived the prima facie duty of care owed by the Minister, accord­ingly, there could be no negligence. Robertson, J.A., stated that the Minister owed a duty of care, but there was no ac­tionable negligence. Linden, J.A., stated that the Minister owed a duty of care and was negligent.

Crown - Topic 1565

Torts by and against Crown - Negligence by Crown - Issuance of permits - [See Crown - Topic 1645 ].

Crown - Topic 1645

Torts by and against Crown - Actions against the Crown - Defences, bars or exclusions - "Policy" decisions - The Minister exercised his discretion under s. 7 of the Fisheries Act to authorize the issuance of lobster fishing licences to Comeau ("policy" decision) - Four months later, the Minister bowed to political pres­sure and withdrew the authorization - Comeau, having expended funds in reli­ance on the authorization, sued for dam­ages in negligence - The Federal Court of Appeal held that the Minister was not liable notwithstanding the withdrawal decision was ultra vires the Minister - Robertson, J.A., held that although the Minister owed Comeau a limited duty of care in deciding to withdraw the authori­zation (not a "policy" decision), there was no negligence absent a finding that the Minister improperly construed s. 7 by failing to take reasonable care to avoid making an ultra vires decision - Stone, J.A., held that there could be no negli­gence, because the prima facie duty of care was negatived by the availability of adequate administrative law remedies (judicial review and mandamus) - Linden, J.A., dissenting, held that the withdrawal decision was negligent and the availability of administrative law remedies did not limit the duty of care or bar tort relief - In the result, the Minister was not liable in negligence.

Crown - Topic 1646

Torts by and against Crown - Actions against the Crown - Defences, bars or exclusions - Statutory authority - [See Crown - Topic 1645 ].

Crown - Topic 2890

Crown immunity - Exceptions - Negli­gence - [See Crown - Topic 1645 ].

Cases Noticed:

Rowling v. Takaro Properties Ltd., [1988] 1 A.C. 473 (P.C.), refd to. [para. 3].

Just v. British Columbia, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1228; [1990] 1 W.W.R. 385; 103 N.R. 1; 41 B.C.L.R.(2d) 350; 64 D.L.R.(4th) 689, refd to. [para. 5].

Brown v. British Columbia (Minister of Transportation and Highways), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 420; 164 N.R. 161; 42 B.C.A.C. 1; 67 W.A.C. 1; 19 C.C.L.T.(2d) 268, refd to. [para. 5].

Swinamer v. Nova Scotia (Attorney Gen­eral), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 445; 163 N.R. 291; 129 N.S.R.(2d) 321; 362 A.P.R. 321; 19 C.C.L.T.(2d) 233, refd to. [para. 5].

Anns v. Merton London Borough Council, [1978] A.C. 728; [1977] 2 W.L.R. 1024 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 8].

Nielsen v. Kamloops (City) and Hughes, [1984] 2 S.C.R. 2; 54 N.R. 1; [1984] 5 W.W.R. 1; 10 D.L.R.(4th) 641; 29 C.C.L.T. 97; 8 C.L.R. 1, refd to. [para. 8].

Canadian National Railway Co. et al. v. Norsk Pacific Steamship Co. and Tug Jervis Crown et al., [1992] 1 S.C.R. 1021; 137 N.R. 241; 91 D.L.R.(4th) 289, refd to. [para. 8].

Winnipeg Condominium Corp. No. 36 v. Bird Construction Co. et al. (1995), 176 N.R. 321; 100 Man.R.(2d) 241; 91 W.A.C. 241 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 8].

Stewart v. Pettie et al. (1995), 177 N.R. 297; 162 A.R. 241; 83 W.A.C. 241 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 8].

Yeu et al. v. Hong Kong (Attorney Gen­eral), [1988] A.C. 175; 82 N.R. 321 (P.C.), refd to. [para. 9, footnote 2].

Governors of the Peabody Donation Fund v. Sir Lindsay Parkinson & Co., [1985] A.C. 210 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 10].

Murphy v. Brentwood District Council, [1990] 2 All E.R. 908; 113 N.R. 81 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 10].

Chabra v. Minister of National Revenue (1989), 26 F.T.R. 288; 89 D.T.C. 5310 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 33].

Francoeur et al. v. Canada (1994), 78 F.T.R. 109 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 33].

Roncarelli v. Duplessis, [1959] S.C.R. 121, refd to. [para. 34].

McGillivray v. Kimber (1915), 52 S.C.R. 146, refd to. [para. 35].

Brayser v. MacLean (1875), L.R. 6 P.C. 398 (P.C.N.S.W.), refd to. [para. 35].

Welbridge Holdings Ltd. v. Winnipeg (Greater), [1971] S.C.R. 957, refd to. [para. 37].

Sutherland Shire Council v. Heyman (1985), 157 C.L.R. 424 (Aust. H.C.), refd to. [para. 46].

Janiak v. Ippolito, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 146; 57 N.R. 241, refd to. [para. 49].

Hedley, Byrne & Co. v. Heller & Partners Ltd., [1964] A.C. 465 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 49].

Laurentide Motels Ltd. et al. v. Beauport (Ville) et al., [1989] 1 S.C.R. 705; 94 N.R. 1; 23 Q.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 50].

Manolakos v. Vernon (City) et al., [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1259; 102 N.R. 249; 63 D.L.R.(4th) 449, refd to. [para. 50].

Tock and Tock v. St. John's Metropolitan Area Board, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1181; 104 N.R. 241; 82 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 181; 257 A.P.R. 181; 64 D.L.R.(4th) 620; 1 C.C.L.T.(2d) 113, refd to. [para. 50].

United Terminal Ltd. v. Minister of Na­tional Revenue, [1992] 3 F.C. 302; 142 N.R. 208 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 58].

Ultramares v. Touche (1931), 225 N.Y. 170, refd to. [para. 65].

Swanson and Peever v. Canada, [1992] 1 F.C. 408; 124 N.R. 218 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 91].

LaPointe et al. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) et al. (1992), 51 F.T.R. 161 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 95].

Somerville Belkin Industries Ltd. v. Mani­toba, [1988] 3 W.W.R. 523; 51 Man.R.(2d) 232 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 98, footnote 6].

San Sebastian Pty. Ltd. v. The Minister (1962), 162 C.L.R. 340 (Aust. H.C.), refd to. [para. 100].

Central Canada Potash and Canada (Attor­ney General) v. Saskatchewan, [1979] 1 S.C.R. 42; 23 N.R. 481; 88 D.L.R.(3d) 609, refd to. [para. 102, footnote 7].

Donoghue v. Stevenson, [1932] A.C. 562, refd to. [para. 105].

Home Office v. Dorset Yacht Co., [1970] 2 All E.R. 294 (H.L.), refd to. [para. 105].

Batty v. Metropolitan Property Realisa- tions, [1978] 2 W.L.R. 500 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 106].

Hofstrand Farms Ltd. v. B.D.C. Ltd., [1986] 1 S.C.R. 228; 65 N.R. 216, refd to. [para. 107].

Rivtow Marine Ltd. v. Washington Iron Works (1973), 40 D.L.R.(3d) 530 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 110, footnote 11].

Stein Estate v. Ship Kathy K, [1976] 2 S.C.R. 802; 6 N.R. 359; 62 D.L.R.(3d) 1, refd to. [para. 111].

Galaske v. O'Donnell et al., [1994] 1 S.C.R. 670; 166 N.R. 5; 43 B.C.A.C. 37; 69 W.A.C. 37, refd to. [para. 111].

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool v. Canada, [1983] 1 S.C.R. 205; 45 N.R. 425; 143 D.L.R.(3d) 9, refd to. [para. 112].

Brown Estate v. Postma et al., [1965] S.C.R. 324, refd to. [para. 113].

CAE Industries Ltd. and CAE Aircraft Ltd. v. Canada (1985), 61 N.R. 19 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 117].

Mentuck v. Canada, [1986] 3 F.C. 249; 3 F.T.R. 80 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 118].

Grant v. New Brunswick (1973), 6 N.B.R.(2d) 95; 35 D.L.R.(3d) 141 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 118].

Sirros v. Moore, [1974] 3 All E.R. 776 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 120].

Just v. British Columbia, [1985] 5 W.W.R. 570; 33 C.C.L.T. 49 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 121].

Just v. British Columbia, [1987] 2 W.W.R. 231; 40 C.C.L.T. 160 (B.C.C.A.), refd to. [para. 121].

Just v. British Columbia (1992), 60 B.C.L.R.(2d) 209 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 124].

Riverscout Farms Ltd. v. Niagara-On-The-Lake (Town) (1992), 9 C.C.L.T.(2d) 231 (Ont. Gen. Div.), refd to. [para. 127].

Clark v. Canada (1994), 76 F.T.R. 241; 20 C.C.L.T. 241 (T.D.), refd to. [para. 127].

Brewer Brothers et al. v. Canada (Attorney General), [1992] 1 F.C. 25; 129 N.R. 3; 8 C.C.L.T.(2d) 45 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 129].

Kuczerpa v. Canada (1993), 152 N.R. 207 (F.C.A.), refd to. [para. 134].

Williams v. New York (1985), 127 N.E.2d 545, refd to. [para. 144].

Statutes Noticed:

Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-50, sect. 3(a) [para. 120]; sect. 8 [para. 88].

Federal Court Rules, rule 456 [para. 58].

Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. F-14, sect. 7(1), sect. 7(2), sect. 9 [para. 78].

Fishing and Protection of Fisheries, An Act for the Regulation of, S.C. 1867-68, c. 60, sect. 2 [para. 1, footnote 1].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Bailey and Bowman, The Policy/Opera­tional Dichotomy -- A Cuckoo in the Nest (1986), 45 Camb. L.J. 43, p. 456 [para. 122].

Brennan, Liability in Negligence of Public Authorities: The Divergent Views, p. 114 [para. 46].

Cohen, Regulating Regulators (1990), 40 U.T.L.J. 213, generally [para. 142].

Craig, P.P., Compensation for Public Law (1980), 96 L.Q.R. 413, generally [para. 33].

Epstein, Gregory and Kalven, Cases and Materials on Torts (1984), p. 854 [para. 125].

Evans, R.C., Damages for Unlawful Ad­ministrative Action: The Remedy for Misfeasance in Public Office (1982), 31 Int. & Comp. L.Q. 640, generally [para. 33].

Feldthusen, Bruce, Economic Negligence (3rd Ed. 1994), generally [para. 127].

Fleming, The Law of Torts (8th Ed. 1992), generally [para. 105].

Galloway, The Liability of: Just or Just and Reasonable (1990), 41 Admin. L.R. 133, p. 152 [para. 129].

Hogg, Peter W., Case Comment, Tock v. St. John's Metropolitan Area Board (1990), 69 Can. Bar Rev. 589, generally [para. 62].

Hogg, Peter W., Liability (1994), 16 Adv. Q. 366, pp. 372 [para. 126]; 373 [para. 132].

Hogg, Peter W., Liability of the Crown (1989), pp. 111 to 113 [para. 33].

Klar, Extending Liability of Public Au­thorities (1990), 28 Alta. L. Rev. 648, p. 655 [para. 132].

Lewis, C., Judicial Remedies in Public Law (1992), p. 379 [para. 20].

McBride, J., Damages as a Remedy for Unlawful Administrative Action, [1979] Cambridge L.J. 323, generally [para. 33].

Prosser and Keeton, The Law of Torts (5th Ed. 1985), p. 221 [para. 113].

Sopinka, J., The Liability of Public Au­thorities: Drawing the Line (1993), 1 Tort L. Rev. 123, generally [para. 49].

Woodall, M.K., Private Law Liability of Public Authorities for Negligent Inspec­tion and Regulation (1992), 37 McGill L.J. 83, generally [para. 46].

Counsel:

David Sgayias, Q.C., for the appellant;

Stewart McInnes, Q.C., and David Mac­Dougall, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

George Thomson, Deputy Attorney Gen­eral of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellant;

McInnes, Cooper & Robertson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the respondent.

This appeal and cross-appeal were heard at Halifax, N.S., on November 29, 1994, before Stone, Linden and Robertson, JJ.A., of the Federal Court of Appeal.

The judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal was delivered on February 27, 1995, and the following opinions were filed:

Stone, J.A. - see paragraphs 1 to 24;

Robertson, J.A. - see paragraphs 25 to 67;

Linden, J.A., dissenting in part - see paragraphs 68 to 149.

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